Brand consistency is about more than logos and taglines. It underpins every aspect of your business, at least it should if done well. Branding is about the promises you make and keep to your customers. Brand consistency ensures that promises are met at every ‘moment of truth‘ between your organization and your customers. Failing to achieve this in today’s marketplace, where that promise now includes COVID safeguarding could be hugely damaging to your reputation and subsequently, customer loyalty.
Fail to provide a consistent service or product and customers will leave bad reviews. Fail to provide consistent COVID safeguarding and some customers will post all-out warnings telling others to avoid your organization for their own safety. Customers will ultimately vote with their feet and interact with brands they see delivering a consistent promise on both their COVID measures and their service.
In part 6 of our blog series, Employee Engagement in Isolation and Beyond, we look at how to use coaching as a defence against having your customer experience undermined by individual attitudes to safe COVID practices. Brand projection now needs to incorporate consistent COVID appropriate behavior to maintain and enhance the loyalty of your customers.
Instilling standards of behavior for brand consistency
As training and coaching practitioners, we’ve helped countless businesses, including Pizza Hut, Harrods and Avis, instil high standards of customer service across their teams. The challenge is not how well your best performers operate, but how consistently your whole team behave. This determines brand consistency. As lockdowns ease and customers re-engage, the behavior of your teams will be vital in demonstrating how much you value your customer’s health and well-being.
Customers will vary in their adoption of safe practices. Some may strictly observe social distancing guidelines, while others won’t pay them much attention. However, you cannot afford for your employees to demonstrate the same personal perception driven approach. Individual perceptions of risk will rapidly erode any organizational approach to demonstrating consistent practice. Every member of your team must adhere to your guidelines every single day, to the point that it becomes second nature. This is the only way your organization can take the job of protecting its customers seriously. It is the only way to show brand consistency in your approach to delivering your service in a post-pandemic world.
What does this look like in practice?
The list of COVID-secure measures will differ from organization to organization according to their services. However, some are valid regardless of industry, such as employees maintaining a safe distance between each other and customers, following a one-way system, disinfecting surfaces regularly, and handwashing. However, seemingly small each of these behaviors appear, your employees will need to adhere to them at all times and remind, support and encourage each other while doing so.
The benefits are two-fold. For those customers who feel anxious about visiting a retail or hospitality establishment, seeing how committed your employees are to their safety will put them at ease. For customers unconvinced about following COVID-19 safety measures, seeing your employees follow these measures will exert some level of social pressure and encourage them to follow suit.
But once you have set and communicated your rules to create a COVID-safe establishment, how can you ensure they’re adopted and maintained?
Coaching for consistency
Coaching is the key to bringing about deep behavioral change within any team. Effective coaching addresses both skill and will. For employees who are fully on board with the importance of enforcing COVID-secure measures, coaching is about providing clarity so they know exactly what they should and should not be doing. For employees who may not see the value in COVID-secure measures, compliance can be more of a challenge. Coaching gets to the root of their beliefs and perceptions and helps them to recognize why their perception of risk may not be the only one to guide their behavior.
Coaching is focused on the individual and can help coachees reframe new rules in terms of how customers feel and the likely impact of our behavior on their feelings. It also helps emphasize that sticking to the rules is about being a team. Diminishing the rules puts individuals out of step with team norms and diminishes everyone’s combined effort. For those of you who have read Cialdini’s work on Social Proof, you will know all about the perils of the ‘magnetic middle’. If you have not, it is a salient concept for a time when societal behavior can have big implications.
Digital help with coaching
While coaching is typically 1:1 there are many benefits from supporting such activities with a digital platform, especially when dealing with multiple sites. Recording behavior change, tracking coaching frequency and using this data to intervene, support and congratulate as required, can pay dividends. Social proof can then be used positively by sharing stories of good practice and associated customer feedback across locations and regions. This helps instil a sense of community behavior by managing the narrative.
Our mobile coaching platform, On.Board, does this by making customized coaching programs easy to build. It enables managers, coaches and leaders to provide feedback that motivates their team and sets the ‘magnetic middle’ bar high.
Take a quick look at how this could work for your organization in this short video:
As someone once said; ‘the only person who likes change is a baby with a wet nappy/diaper‘. Change is hard for everyone. Your new rules will require clear explanation and reinforcement. Your teams will need encouragement, correction, praise, and empathy to operate in ways that may feel alien and to some ‘unnecessary’. The first steps may be challenging for some but once your team gets going, these new measures will become second nature. Your customers will experience consistency, feel safe, and ultimately choose your organization to meet their needs over others that fail to deliver.
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